Ballet Is Tougher Than You Think

11/11/2014 14:32 | Updated 20 May 2015

There aren't many art forms as awe-inspiring as ballet. Yet aside from watching the Nutcracker at Christmas, the professional dance world remains unfamiliar to most of us.

So, what does it take to be a ballet dancer? It's tougher than you think.

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Back with a second series of City Ballet, executive producer Sarah Jessica Parker takes us behind-the-scenes at the New York City Ballet to capture the dedication and passion inside this world-famous institution.

From the challenges of being the youngest artist in an extremely competitive profession to exploring what it takes to overcome injuries, each episode follows the highs and lows of dancers at different stages of their careers.

And if you were ever under any illusion that life as a dancer was all tutus and fairytales, City Ballet will change that.

Many dancers at the company, like City's Unity Phelan, start their careers aged 14. Once they progress to the the corps de ballet, the supporting group of dancers, they have just a year to prove themselves.

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"There are so many things you can't control in life," says Phelan. "And the one thing you can control is how hard you work."

Ballet master Kathleen Tracey also highlights how gruelling this profession can be.

"It is a very very difficult career," says Tracey. "It's compounded by the fact that they get in when they're so young. I would love to mother them, but part of me just says I've got to let them find it."

Hear from the corp de ballet dancers in the first episode of the new series and find out more from City Ballet as SJP explores life at the company each week.

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